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PACE spring session was very successful for Azerbaijan

Interview with  Member of Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women Sahiba Gafarova

Q: The spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has wrapped up. Did it feature any discussions related to Azerbaijan. How would you assess the session for the country?

A: Although the session did not feature any discussion related to Azerbaijan, our delegation members addressed various panels of the session to highlight the issues concerning the Azerbaijani society. I also addressed the session. I provided wide information about the preparations for the inaugural European Games that our capital will host in 47-48 days. I said that Baku is fully ready to host the Games, and that the competition in our capital will set a benchmark for future Games. A smear campaign against Azerbaijan conducted by some circles was condemned during the session. I said that led by first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, the Organizing Committee is already completing the preparations for the Games. We also raised the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenian terrorism.

In general I think that the spring session of PACE was very successful for Azerbaijan.

Q: Armenian delegates made anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish remarks at the session. The session coincided with Armenians` celebrating the centennial of the so-called genocide. We would like to hear about this from you.

A: If Armenia, putting forward the Armenian genocide claims by falsifying history, acknowledged its political, legal and moral responsibility for the inhuman criminal acts that it committed against the Azerbaijani people, put an end to its aggression against Azerbaijan and gave up its territorial claims against the neighboring countries, it would contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in the region and escape itself from the miserable situation that it faces. As usual we severely responded to their claims during the session. As an Azerbaijani parliamentarian I said that these claims are absolutely groundless. For many years we have been informing the world, as well as European countries and institutions about the truth on the Khojaly genocide and real facts of atrocities committed against the Turks and Azerbaijanis by the Armenians in the last 200 years. However, the European countries, European Parliament, Council of Europe haven’t adopted any objective decision on the issue. Historical facts, documents confirm that no act of genocide was committed against the Armenians in Turkey in 1915. In that period when Turkey was drawn into war, Armenians formed numerous armed groups and started uprisings in the rear, launching assaults on Turkish troops, committing mass murder and inhumane actions against civilians in different cities and towns. Of course, the Turkish army took necessary actions to protect the civilian population from Armenian atrocities. And there have been no acts of genocide during the time Armenians were being resettled in different areas. But the actions that were carried out against them in keeping with requirements of war stood out with their severity. Therefore, assessment of the events that took place in the early twentieth century by a group of politicians or MPs, distorting a historical truth, without relying on any fact and studying the archive materials of that time, is totally wrong.

Q: At the session you were elected the PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women. Previously you were elected PACE Chairperson of sub-Committee on Racism and Xenophobia. What will be your mandate and agenda in the new post?

A: Yes, as you said I was elected the PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women at this session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I also chaired sub-Committee on Racism and Xenophobia. Election was held on April 21. I was challenged by a parliamentarian from Denmark. Now I am responsible for organizing and coordinating the activity of PACE towards combating violence against women. I will work to increase the involvement of public, governments and non-governmental organizations in fighting against violence against women.

In addition I will fulfill the functions of the coordinator of the Violence Free Woman parliamentary network. It currently groups 51 member and observer countries. I consider my new mandate a remarkable achievement of Azerbaijan. At the same time Deputy chair of the Committee for International Relations and Interparliamentary Ties at the Azerbaijani Parliament, member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Sevinj Fataliyeva was elected the organization` s General Rapporteur on Children. will play a key role in the organization of PACE`s activity related to children. She will be responsible for promoting the awareness of the world community, government bodies and NGOs about children`s problems.

Q: As you mentioned, a little more than one month is left for the inaugural European Games. And some circles have activated their dirty campaign against our country. What is your opinion about this?

A: The Organizing Committee of the first European Games has carried out considerable work to ensure excellent organization of this important international sports event after the European Olympic Committees announced its decision. The issues related the construction of new sports facilities, repair of the existing ones, improvement of social and transport infrastructure to world standards, accommodation of guests, security and others are successfully addressed, and this work is nearing completion. The European Olympic Committees has highly praised the preparation work in its statements. All this gives grounds to say with confidence that the first European Games to be held in Azerbaijan will be remarkable for its grandiosity.

Unfortunately, some local groups and international circles that are trying to discredit Azerbaijan’s achievements in economic, social, political, humanitarian and other fields, don’t want to miss this opportunity and attempt to make the 1st European Games into the main topic of the “smear campaign” carried out against our country. We faced such provocations in the past - on the eve of Eurovision-2012 song contest. At that time, the international community was convinced that all this is nothing more than an insidious play of the forces intending to put pressure on Azerbaijan and impose their will on its independent policy. We are confident that the use of such primitive and feeble methods to discredit Azerbaijan will produce no results and urge those forces to abandon their dirty intentions.